Oh hey there sports fans, long time no see! Nearly full time work hours and me catching a cold meant absolutely no show last week, but I’m back! Not necessarily with a bang, but back nevertheless.
Ok so this post and the accompanying photos are not going to win me any awards, but food is food regardless.
In my cold-addled state I decided I needed an injection of hot, flavourful vegetables to aid my recovery. Enter pan fried zucchini with chilli flakes, garlic, and black vinegar; and roasted cauliflower dusted with coriander and cumin.
Zucchini is one of those vegetables that if cooked well, is exquisite, and if cooked clumsily, will put you off the green, striated squash altogether. Since its natural flavour is quite insipid, I like to beef it up by adding generous sprinkles of garlic, chilli, and a blob (very technical term) of oyster sauce while frying in hot oil. Adding a generous pinch of sea salt will encourage any liquid held within the vegetable to be released. Just before I turn the heat off, I splash a little Chinese black vinegar in and let everything sizzle with the lid off.
If you don’t have Chinese black vinegar, a modest splash of ordinary rice wine vinegar will be an suitable substitute, but don’t go too overboard since I find it’s quite a bit sharper than black.
Black vinegar in my mind is the eastern equivalent of balsamic – it’s suitably sweeter with a molasses quality, and has a more solid savoury base of flavour than rice wine vinegar. It’s the dipping sauce of choice if you ever eat dumplings at Yum Cha, the sharp sweetness complimenting the rich pork interior of the popular Xiao Long Bao.
Cauliflower is a surprisingly versatile vegetable as well, and what I’ve eaten to date is a far cry from what I recall as a child (boiled until soft and a little bit bitter!) Preparing this cauliflower couldn’t be easier. Separate a whole head into florets (size doesn’t really matter; I like to measure by whether I could fit the whole thing in my mouth at once!). Drizzle with oil of your choice, dust generously with cumin and coriander powder, and a decent scattering of sea salt. Add a little more oil if desired, and toss to mix.
Pop into a medium hot oven for 10-15 mins at first, take out to give a little stir round, then back in for a further 10 mins at a higher temperature. You can serve with the cashew cheese sauce I made previously, or as in my situation yesterday I bypassed that and dunked floret by floret directly into powdered Parmesan cheese and straight to mouth!